Every weekday in Mid Sussex volunteers are helping trained staff to provide services and support for one of the area’s largest unsung groups.
More than 30 volunteers give up a few hours a week or month to help serve teas and coffees to in excess of 900 members of Age UK’s Redwood Centre in Haywards Heath.
A two-course lunch is made every weekday attracting several dozen members at a time to venture out of their homes to enjoy food, chatter and company in a convivial atmosphere.
The importance of the centre for people over 50 who live alone or with limited social opportunities or transport cannot be emphasised enough by Redwood Centre coordinator Johanne Hodgkinson.
She said: “The centre is very important for a lot of our members who would otherwise remain isolated in their homes.
“For some people it is the only time they get out and meet someone so it extremely important to have a centre like this as well as our volunteers who are essential to its smooth running.”
The Redwood Centre is situated next to Clair Hall in Perrymount Road and the centre’s minibus, driven by one of its six paid members of staff, transports those members who have no other way of getting there.
For an annual membership of £20, people aged from 50 to the oldest member of 101 access services including chiropody, hairdressing, mannicures, massage and acupuncture.
They can also take part in weekly classes from ta’i chi and card making to computer skills and crafts. For the more energetic there is line dancing, Spanish dancing or chair-robics which embraces exercise from the more sedate position of a comfy chair.
“Lots of our members come in for one service or another, perhaps to access the chiropodist or hairdresser or perhaps the computer skills class, or they come in for a hot meal and to meet up with friends and have a chat.”
There is also a small shop selling essentials that can easily be run out of, while other activities include outings to places of interest and shopping trips to other town centres at busy times such as Christmas.
People were invited in to see how the centre operated and what services it offered to its members at an open day last week.
Johanne added: “We had quite a few people come in to see what we do here and so hopefully we will see more new faces.”
The Redwood Centre receives some grants but is also dependent on charitable donations and fund-raising by Age UK to continue its services to the over 50s.
To join or to find out more information, just drop into the Redwood Centre or telephone on 01444 450248.
Age UK’s redwood centre in perrymount road, haywards heath, has more than 900 members who can access its services between 9am and 4pm every weekday. it costS £20 a year to join with a two-course lunch costing £4.50.